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A video glimpse of Teenage Engineering’s OP-Z in action

It looks like a small remote control for a game system, but it’s a musical instrument. The OP-Z caught our imagination earlier this year at NAMM with a host of bizarre and wonderful functions, from sequenced instruments and drums to live visual animation accompaniment (seriously). Now, Cuckoo Music catches up with Teenage Engineering in his ongoing video series. That means a chance to see how the pocket music gizmo has progressed, as well as what’s happening with live visuals. Teenage Engineer David Mollerstedt joins: Meanwhile, TE’s instruments see other lovely action. Mikael Jorgensen writes CDM to tell us about his …


Kyoka talks about her amazing new raster-noton sounds

raster-noton is already a beloved imprint for those who care about out-there sounds. But if you thought you’d heard every click and oscillation that name could bring, you probably haven’t heard Kyoka – the Japanese-born artist who always manages to wander out into new territory. And even before we had a chance to get the least bit tired of her last outing, she’s fresh from a trip to Stockholm’s EMS with something altogether different. CDM’s Zuzana Friday invites Kyoka over to charm and wow us all over again.


Watch 16 Rubik’s Cubes Turn Into a Visual Music Sequencer

The future happens gradually — and then by the time you’re sequencing a Web browser using Rubik’s Cubes, you might barely notice. But Sweden’s most inventive producer is back yet again with his latest novelty, this time turning one of the world’s best-selling toys (hundreds of millions of units) into a usable sequencer. Håkan Lidbo (concept and sound design) teams up with Per-Olov Jernberg (programming & visual design) and Romeo Brahasteanu (game board). The clever conceit here is to swap black for one of the colors, thus creating a foreground and background. Make a 4×4 grid of these cubes of …


With MIDI, A Simple iOS Piano Roll App Gets More Useful: Auxy Update

From a design standpoint, it was beautiful. Auxy already demonstrated that a stripped-down app could provide an elegant way to simply produce musical patterns. Using a clean, piano roll-style graphical interface, it was finally a demonstration that you could make a music app for editing notes that felt native to a touch environment. There was just one problem, a big one: you were limited to the very basic built-in sounds. So, Auxy was a bit of a conundrum. It was the perfect app for making patterns for other apps and hardware, but it didn’t have the ability to connect to …


How TE’s $59 Drum Machine Sounds – And How The Pocket Operators Work

Teenage Engineering have also shared with us their video tutorials on the PO (Pocket Operator) line. The basic stuff to know (having been playing around with today rather than doing NAMM work): This being Nintendo-inspired, yes, there’s a metronome and alarm clock function. Select one of sixteen patterns, and one of sixteen sounds, with the respective buttons. Toggle between playing notes with the buttons, or inputing them with the step sequencer, using the “write” button. Hold “write,” and you can write parameters over top of playing sequences (effects work this way, too). That means you can automate patterns, etc. “bpm” …


Nintendo Game & Watch Inspires Tiny, $59 Synths from Teenage Engineering [CDM Hands-on]

“Pocket” is a term often used loosely to mean anything small. Not so the Teenage Engineering PO-12 series of instruments. They’re each literally small enough that you could put them in your jeans comfortably and still cram in your phone. We’ve got units from TE (and collaborator Cheap Monday) here at CDM, so let’s talk about what our wacky Stockholm friends have done this time. Remember Nintendo’s Game & Watch series? These business card-sized pocket games used crude but charming LCD animations, characters making jerky, repetitive movements for basic games. The ultra-cheap toy titles preceded the NES, the ingenious work …


Nord’s Electro 5 Revises A Favorite Stage Piano

Year after year, a lot of what the music instruments industry does is iterative – evolutionary, not revolutionary. But for the day-in, day-out operation of a lot of gigging musicians, some of the less-thrilling announcements are the ones that simply make life better. That means, for example, Clavia’s announcement of a new Nord Electro 5 keyboard matters. The number of stage musicians who rely on the signature red keyboards from Sweden is simply stunning. Nord aren’t cheap, but their attention to detail has earned them a lot of impassioned enthusiasts. I actually had the pleasure of visiting Clavia when I …


Auxy Is The Best Piano Roll Editor for iPad Yet – And Not Much Else – By Design [Free]

It’s been asked over and over again: can a simpler software tool attract more people to music making? But the next question is, invariably – what’s the right stuff to leave out? Auxy, released today, is an extreme exercise in app minimalism. It radically reduces what’s in the UI by focusing on making and cueing patterns — and leaving out the rest. It’s also free. Built exclusively for iPad, Auxy centers on a grid as its main screen. You’ve got four tracks in which you can create, edit, then trigger different patterns. Tap on one rectangle, and you draw in …


An Entire Building in Stockholm Just Became a Game Board

Not satisfied with producing hundreds of records and working with a litany of famous names, sound artist / composer / musician Håkan Lidbo several times a year embarks on some novel experiment in sound and interactivity. In the latest, he’s worked with smart lightbulbs from Philips to transform an entire building in Stockholm into your very own personal game board. They’re calling it the world’s biggest Master Mind game, and who are we to argue? The idea is, windows become pixels, and you play online to try to guess the color code of your opponent, in a game of wits.


These Apps Use Quicker Interfaces To Encourage More People to Use Sound

Convincing musicians to make use of sound is easy. And electronic musicians are even content with stunningly-complex interfaces, in exchange for deep control of sound. But what about everyone else? Users on mobile are certainly uploading sounds. Part of the intense interest in SoundCloud even outside music and audio audiences is simple to explain: the site is ridiculously popular. By 2012, it had reached 10 hours of uploads per minute. And once sound is uploaded, it attracts listeners. As of last fall, users had skyrocketed from 200 to 250 million users in just a few months. That’s another reason last …